Im­prove The Qual­ity Of Your Video Sound With Zoom’s H5

Zoom H5 recorder

ProPhoto - - FRONT PAGE - Re­port by Jez Ford

Four tracks of HD audio with great ver­sa­til­ity and a hot-shoe mount for your cam­era. What’s not to like?

Zoom has made a great suc­cess of its range of audio recorders. Even the lowli­est of its ‘H’ range de­liv­ers high­qual­ity audio record­ings with the abil­ity to raise bit-rates far above CD qual­ity — up to 24 bits per sam­ple com­pared with CD’s 16, and sam­pling rates of 96kHz, com­pared with CD’s 44.1kHz. And hith­erto the model num­ber­ing has been mar­vel­lously self-ex­plana­tory. The lit­tle H2n recorder is a two-track or stereo recorder. The H6 (re­viewed in our Vol 69/No 7 is­sue) is a six­track recorder, Zoom’s high­est level yet.

Now we have the new H5 — which turns out to be a four-track recorder, with two tracks (L/R) from the X/Y stereo con­denser mics on the front, two more from the in­puts at the rear. Zoom al­ready has the four-track H4n, so a new H5 nomen­cla­ture was re­quired. But what’s dif­fer­ent?

mike swap­ping

The big­gest dif­fer­ence is that the H5 adopts the H6’s sys­tem of swap­pable mi­cro­phone cap­sules. The H4n has a not dis­sim­i­lar built-in pair of X/Y stereo con­denser mics on the front, but th­ese can’t be re­moved. On the H5, how­ever, you can pull them off and re­place them with any of Zoom’s avail­able cap­sules — th­ese in­clude a small shot­gun mike, a mid-side de­sign, and a cap­sule that re­places the mikes with two ad­di­tional in­puts, al­low­ing four-track record­ing from all ex­ter­nal mikes. There’s also the slightly larger X/Y cap­sule that comes with the H6 (see p40).

In its sim­plest form, though, you can set the H5 to record in stereo only and then pipe the re­sult down a cable into your D-SLR’s ex­ter­nal audio or mike in­put, to have all your audio and video pre-synced on the cam­era.

The H5’s line out­put can also be dropped by up to 30dB if you’re plug­ging it into a high sen­si­tiv­ity mike in­put on your cam­era. Along with the op­tional HS-1 hot-shoe mount, this is another sign that Zoom is in­clud­ing in­creas­ing num­bers of fea­tures aimed at videog­ra­phers, as well as for its tra­di­tional mar­ket of sound recordists.

Field record­ing

While we thought the H6 just a bit large for sit­ting on top of your D-SLR, the H5 is a much more man­age­able size. Perched thus, its clear mono­chrome dis­play faces up, the X/Y cap­sule mike faces for­wards and the two XLR-TRS sock­ets face the back for your choice of bal­anced XLR or un­bal­anced quar­ter­inch plugs. Th­ese are fine for mi­cro­phones or line-level in­puts (mix­ers, key­boards etc.), so you might, say, use the X-Ys for a gen­eral front bal­ance but plug up a pair of lapel or hand­held mikes for in­ter­viewer and in­ter­vie­wee. Or in a mu­sic con­text you might take a room record­ing from the front mikes and an off-desk mix or drum mix into the two other in­puts.

Note that th­ese are not sen­si­tive enough for di­rect in­put of gui­tar or bass; you’ll need a mixer or ef­fects unit to suf­fi­ciently raise their lev­els. The gain di­als are also eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble — the mike cap­sules have their own con­trols (the X-Y pair has a sin­gle stereo vol­ume dial for the L-R chan­nels), while the sep­a­rate lit­tle gain di­als for chan­nels 1 and 2 sit be­low the dis­play.

All th­ese di­als sit un­der sturdy steel bumper bars, partly for pro­tec­tion but also for prac­ti­cal­ity — it’s far eas­ier to smoothly ad­just the vol­ume with this ar­range­ment.

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